The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 is one-third of the dose that people 12 and older can receive. In clinical trials, the vaccine was about 90% effective in preventing infection and 100% effective in preventing severe illness, according to Dr. Eric France, the chief medical officer with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
The vaccine’s approval comes at a time when pediatric COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Dr. Lalit Bajaj is a pediatric emergency medicine specialist and chief quality and outcomes officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Bajaj was involved in the trial, and he said the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant has made it so COVID-19 is a more serious threat to children.
Data from Tri-County Health (serving Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties...for now) show that the highest rates of COVID-19 in all three counties are among children between the ages of 6-11.
“We’re still seeing plenty of children infected with COVID as well as other respiratory viruses...but COVID can make kids sick,” Bajaj told Rocky Mountain PBS. “And it can make kids pretty severely ill.”
Bajaj said it is important for children to get vaccinated not only so they protect themselves, but so that they don’t act as transmitters to people at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, like grandparents or family members who are immunocompromised.
“The more of the population—including these children—that we get immunized, the sooner we’ll hopefully get back to some level of normalcy.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2,000 children have been hospitalized and treated for COVID-19 in the Children’s Hospital Colorado system, Bajaj said in an October 28 press briefing with Governor Polis.
Colorado has a goal to vaccinate 50% of Coloradans ages 5-11 by the end of January 2022, according to a presentation from the governor’s office. Currently, there are about 480,000 Coloradans in that age range.
The state is organizing pediatric vaccination clinics at kid-friendly places like zoos, museums and libraries in order to vaccinate as many kids as possible. Compared to the rest of the country, Colorado is doing well with pediatric vaccinations. According to Chalkbeat Colorado, “Colorado ranks 13th in the nation for vaccinating children 12 to 17, with 54% of eligible teens fully vaccinated.”
On November 6, Children’s Hospital Colorado hosted a clinic with CDPHE to vaccinate children.